Monday, December 21, 2009

As Partisan As They Come in the Senate, 2010 Updates

60-40 to Proceed

It is actually extremely rare that a vote in either house of Congress falls completely along party lines. In my last post, you saw that there hasn't been a single piece of legislation this year that passed strictly along party lines. Even the most contentious bill to date, the stimulus bill, garnered 3 GOP Senators voting in the affirmative, as well as some Democrats in the House voting negative.

But a straight-up, party line vote is what happened last night on the motion to bring the Reid "Manager's Amendment" to the floor. 60-40. All Democrats voting aye, all Republicans voting no (Independents Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman, also voted aye, Sanders being a Democrat in everything but name and Joe Lieberman being, well, Joe Lieberman.) And expect those vote totals at least 4 more times between now and Christmas. The remaining steps for the DEM's to move this forward are:
(1) Motion to Invoke Cloture to END Debate on the Reid Amendment (60 votes required)
(2) Adoption of the Reid Amendment (51 votes required)
(3) Motion to Invoke Cloture on the BIll (60 votes required)
(4) Passage of the BIll (51 votes required)

Expect 60-40 votes to abound.

2010 -- More Confirmation of the Same Story Line

Actually a fair amount of polling the last 3 weeks, but very little movement in the key races. Only one change.

In Florida -- Rubio has pulled even with Crist in the primary. If Rubio wins the primary, this is a pick 'em race. Crist holds a double digit lead in the general if he wins. This race moves from Safe GOP Hold down to Likely GOP Hold.

Other races with polls of note but no changes:
Connecticut -- Dodd is down by 13% in the latest poll, his worst margin yet. This one remains a Likely GOP Pick-up.
Illinois -- Giannoulis leads by 3% in the single new poll available I leave this one a Toss-Up for now, but another poll in that range would tilt it back into the blue column.
Pennsylvania -- after months of conflict polling data, the latest Quinnipiac poll shows this one, you guessed it, a dead heat. Specter appears now to be comfortable ahead in the Democratic primary. We'll keep it a Toss-Up.
Delaware -- polls are still split in the likely race between Rep. Mike Castle and Beau Biden, with the latest poll showing Castle with a 2 point lead. We leave it a toss-up.
Missouri -- Carnahan has a 2 point lead in the latest poll. This is the sixth straight poll in this race that shows the Dems with a 1 to 3 point lead. It isn't much, but it is consistent enough to keep this a Lean DEM Pick-up.
Ohio -- a pair of Rasmussen polls shows Republican Portman still ahead in the narrow single digits against both possible Democratic challengers. This remains a Lean GOP Hold.

Also of note:
The Kentucky and Georgia races are still categorized as Lean GOP Holds. This is primarily because of polling last year that showed them up for grabs and no new data since then. Given the general direction of polling in the past year (towards the GOP, away from the DEMs) and the fact that Sen. Bunning is not in the Kentucky race (his massive unpopularity was certainly dragging on the GOP in this race), these seem like races that could be more safely in the GOP column than I have them now. I hope that there will be some kind of polling to give me some direction on these races, but for now, in the absence of new data, I'm leaving them where they are.

This leaves us with:
Safe DEM Hold (7)
Hawaii, Maryland, New York (Schumer), Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin

LIkely DEM Hold (4)
California, Indiana, North Carolina, Massachusetts*

* Special election in January

Lean DEM Hold (2)
Arkansas, New York (Gillebrand)

Lean DEM Pick-up (2)
Missouri, New Hampshire

Toss-up -- DEM Controlled (3)
Illinois, Pennsylvania, Delaware

Lean GOP PIck-up (2)
Colorado, Nevada

Likely GOP Pick-Up (1)

Lean GOP Hold (3)
Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia

Likely GOP Hold (8)
North Carolina, Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Louisiana, Florida

Safe GOP Hold (5)
Alabama, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah

Projection: GOP +1 to 4 Seats
GOP Gets All Leaners: GOP +10 Seats
DEM Gets All Leaners: DEM +4 Seats

The GOP would need to gain 11 seats to win control of the Senate, assuming that Independents Bernie Sanders (VT) and Joe Lieberman (CT) continue to vote for the Democratic leadership. If the GOP were to win 10 seats, the Senate would be split 50/50 and Vice-President Joe Biden would cast the deciding 51st vote for the DEMs.

In the House,
The latest generic polling puts our averages of averages at GOP +3.0%. The span is still wide, with polls varying anywhere from DEM +3% to GOP +7%. At the 3.0% level this would project:

GOP Pick-up of 41 Seats

This would be just enough to put the GOP in the narrowest possible control of the House. This is worth noting as it is the first time that I have projected a 2010 GOP takeover of the House, albeit this one is very close. Time will tell whether this is a trend or just an outlier in the data, but it is certainly good news for the GOP. With control of the House, they could effectively block any Democratic legislation from passage and because tax and spending bills must originate in the House, they could prevent such bills from even being discussed in the Senate.

Now, a 218-217 majority is hardly ironclad control. The reality is that it would throw control of Congress to the most moderate members of the House. And that might not be such a bad thing. But it is proof positive that if President Obama wants to get Health Care Reform and Cap and Trade done, it has to happen with this congress.

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